That person uses online chat groups and other social media to reach out and recruit Uber and Lyft drivers for the scheme. Uber says that part is key, because if there are no drivers willing to participate – there is no scheme.
Once on board, the drivers can say where and when they want to take a ride, allowing them to make money on everyday errands or even long distance trips they were already planning to take for personal reasons.
Ensign says the ringleader overseas initiates the ride by hacking into existing Uber accounts. Uber says credit card and personal information are encrypted, so there’s no concern about identity theft, but weak and leaked passwords are allowing crooks to manipulate the service.
People usually never even know their account has been hacked because their credit card information gets swapped out with a stolen card to pay for the ride. The industry calls this acupuncture because the ride request is made right where the driver is located - ensuring they get the gig.
“I guess I was stuck between 'Wow, this is a thing,' and 'how ingenious',” said Kelley. “It may seem like just a little bit of money per transaction. But if you’re looking at this exponentially, then it adds up pretty quickly."